Best small cars for 2019
By Martin Pratt
Article 4 of 16
Looking for a great small car? The best small cars are affordable, reliable and easy to drive, yet feel secure on a motorway
The best small cars are loved by their owners. And for good reason: they're compact enough to be easy to drive in town and just large enough to be comfortable on long-distance trips.
Plus they're affordable to buy and run, and practical so they cope well with everyday duties. From shopping and the school run, to ferrying about friends or even a daily commute, the best small cars are up to the job.
Below are the very best small cars we've tested – reliable new and used models that scored highly enough to become Which? Best Buy cars.
We've also uncovered three small cars that are a poor example of the small-car class, displaying none of the comfort and efficiency you'll find in a Best Buy model. These cars are fault prone, dull, and in some cases downright unsafe to drive and must be avoided.
Best new small cars
Best used small cars
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And here are three small cars to avoid
Small cars are, well, small, but that doesn't mean they need to feel cramped. We've found models that are deceptively spacious with more legroom than you would expect from the outside. That said, we've found cars that are a tight squeeze for two occupants, let alone five.
Some manufacturers see the small car moniker as a challenge, adding creative storage solutions and smart folding seats. But other manufacturers see it as an excuse, creating cars with puny, badly-designed boots with high lips that make them difficult to load.
Being smaller and lighter than most cars doesn't mean a low-powered engine will suffice. Our testing has uncovered engines that struggle to get their cars going. The city car excuse of being designed for driving around town doesn't hold water with small cars.
They should be as comfortable on a motorway as they are weaving down narrow streets. If the engine can't manage this, then you'll be moving through the gears too often to maintain your speed.
Finally, no matter how small a car is, there is no excuse for it to be unsafe. Our independent testing has uncovered one popular model that has sub-standard crash safety. So we've made it a Don't Buy.
Below, you'll find three of the worst small cars we've tested. These models shouldn't be considered, no matter how tempting the price tag.
Small cars to avoid
This compact hatchback has won plenty of fans thanks to its fun styling and low running costs. However, when it comes to the critical aspect of safety it falls down, scoring only three stars in its latest Euro NCAP assessment. As such, it's a Don’t Buy car.
Some cars don’t age gracefully, they get outdated and advances in safety technology render them less safe to drive. This 2016 small car has no such excuse. Low-spec models aren’t fitted with Radar Brake Support, which means the car won’t stop if it detects an imminent collision. Consequently the car only received three stars out of five in its Euro NCAP safety rating.
We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else
Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.
Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs.
And, so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.
To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.